As a kid, I always heard the stories so many of us have heard, about how tough our parents had it when getting to school. Many walked barefoot, in the snow, 10 miles to school, and it was uphill both ways. It was a rough life, you know, and yes I heard those stories too, but the one that struck me as strange and maybe a bit scary was the one my dad told of hopping a train to school. In my mind, I pictured these two little boys, maybe 9 or 10 years old, running along side of a slowly moving train trying to hop up in the box cars, and of course, feeling that lump in my throat as my mind pictured all the possibilities of such an ill advised venture. Knowing that my dad obviously didn’t land under the train, since he was, after all my dad, and must have survived such a childish prank, didn’t do much to ease my young mind for my dad as a boy. And I never could figure out why my grandmother didn’t beat the daylights out of her two reckless sons.
In going through some of my dad’s things since his passing, we came across a railroad pass, and that took me back to those old stories. You see, my grandpa worked for the Great Northern Railway Company, and his kids had passes to ride the train for free, so while he may have tried some of those reckless ways to board the trail, it wasn’t necessary for him to do it in order to get a ride, and given the evidence, I would have to think that he probably boarded the train in the normal way. Meaning that most likely he had pulled the wool over my eyes or that I was extremely gullible, or more likely a little of both. Still, I can’t say I would put it past my dad or my uncle to attempt or even be really good at hopping a train. They were full of adventurous spirit as kids.
Still, given my own love of trains, and the love of trains my dad always had, I have to think that it must have been such a great way to get to school, or anywhere else that he needed to go. To me, there is a thrill in my soul when that whistle blows, and the conductor yells, “All aboard!!” Then the lurch of the car tells you that you are on your way, and all you have to do is sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride. The scenery flashes by you effortlessly, and you can let your mind wander through the nearby woods to see what animals, meadows, ponds, or rock formations might be in there, just beyond the next turn of the tracks.